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Monthly Archives: February 2009

This Week In Laptop Experts Land

By Luke Anderson

[ The following concerns a paid campaign currently running on the site. ]

It’s Friday, and that means I’ve put in another full week over at Laptop Experts. At six questions a day for five days a week, that’s 36 answers I’ve dolled out. When you consider that there are several other experts answering just as many questions, there’s a good chance that one of us will respond to your’s if you submit one. Curious what other people are asking? Here’s a sample from this week.

Someone needed to know exactly what would be installed on their computer after using their recovery disc, while another wanted to know how to get rid of that excess bloatware that comes on every laptop. There was a curious case of a notebook that wouldn’t boot past the Toshiba logo, a person needing guidance on taking pictures and recording video with their webcam and even someone needing to know if their computer will be able to run Sims 3 when it hits stores.

While we do get some repeat questions, there are always new ones for us to help with. If you’ve got a real brain-buster that you need some help with, by all means head over to the Laptop Experts site and submit it. Or if you’re wanting to kill a little time and offer up your advice, answer a few questions while you’re there.

[ Laptop Experts ]

Star Trek: The Experience To Return To Las Vegas

Star Trek: The Experience - Now Closed (Image property OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’ve never been to Las Vegas and Star Trek: The Experience at the Hilton, that photo I took at CES this year won’t make much sense to you. But if you ever had the chance to eat an over-priced novelty-themed meal at Quark’s bar, or experience the ‘transporter effect’ on the Star Trek ride, you might recognize that as the front entrance to Star Trek: The Experience, which is now boarded up since it was officially shut down last September thanks to a contract dispute.

But all is not lost. According to SCI FI Wire a new contract has been signed with CBS/Paramount that will see Star Trek: The Experience re-open in Vegas on May 8 to coincide with the release of the new Star Trek movie. (Thanks again, Mr. Abrams!) However, the new trek experience will actually be moved to the Neonopolis Center in downtown Las Vegas (close to Fremont street) and it will feature a new restaurant and retail shop at opening, with new Star Trek rides being planned for 2010.

So the original Star Trek: Experience at the Hilton is officially gone forever, but like with the movies, I think the franchise can definitely benefit from a fresh start.

[ SCI FI Wire – Confirmed: New contract to keep Star Trek The Experience alive in Vegas ]

ELPA Universal Remote Includes A Wireless Speaker

ELPA Speaker Remote (Image courtesy DVICE)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’re constantly throwing things at your TV because the darn thing just doesn’t go loud enough for you, might I suggest this handy, yet unusual, universal remote control from ELPA. The design throws years and years of remote control ergonomics out the window, in favor of integrating a pop-up speaker in the lid. When used in conjunction with the included receiver unit connected to your TV, the remote’s speaker basically brings the sound to you. While it looks a bit odd at first, I don’t think it’s terrible idea, given developers have already found some unique uses for the speaker featured on the Wiimote.

The RC-25SP Universal Speaker Remote is available from ELPA for about $40.

[ ELPA Universal Remote With Built-in Speaker ] VIA [ Japan Today ]

This Week On BotJunkie


By Evan Ackerman

This week on BotJunkie began with a video from the Austrian cocktail robotics festival Roboexotica, then we got a little miffed at Klutz for not crediting Evil Mad Scientist Labs for Bristlebots, bet that an android called BERTI would eventually win at rock paper scissors, saw a new video featuring everyone’s favorite quadrupedal military robot BigDog, learned how to make a bunch of little robots out of household materials from Make: Magazine, admired some embroidery celebrating the fact that humans are dead, wanted to try out some robot tiles that let you move without moving in virtual reality, read about a new type of autonomous mapping based on imagery, wished we had a hummer so that the Chaos high mobility robot could pull it, were not at all worried now that subways in NYC are controlling themselves, heard that CMU is planning on sending robots to the moon to help build a base for humans, were glad to find a golf green mowing robot since we’re tired of doing it ourselves, watched a robot give birth, and ended up less than impressed with a transforming robot watch from the 80s.

Robots have been getting some kinda bad press lately, with mainstream media sensationalizing the potential dangers of autonomous military robots. In out last article this week, we take a look at a piece by Fox News which illustrates this quite well, and then we talk about what the potential consequences of autonomous armed robots might be… It’s not only not worth panicking about, but it’s already happened. Check it out.

[ BotJunkie ]

Hershey Cooks Up Line Of Gadgets With Questionable Taste


By Evan Ackerman

It’s a cruel joke, but Hershey has partnered with Jazwares to develop a frustratingly inedible line of consumer electronics, starting with this chocolatey looking but not chocolatey tasting USB drive. Also on the menu are other things that you tend to find in Halloween grab bags but nowhere else, like Krackle and Mr. Goodbar. These drives are available in capacities from 1 gig to 4 gig, for $15 – $30.

What makes even less sense are plush (yes, plush) Jolly Rancher speakers, or a digital camera shaped like a Hershey Kiss. I can’t even imagine how that might work, but thankfully I don’t have to, since we’ve got a rendering of it right here:


Awesome, that’s just awesome. It’ll be $25. As for availability on all of this stuff, I have no idea, but I’m hoping for as long from now as possible.

[ Jazwares ] VIA [ Gearlog ]

Fisher Price My Toon TV

My Toon TV (Image courtesy Fisher Price)
By Andrew Liszewski

Fisher Price announced a handful of high-tech gear at Toy Fair this year, including the My Toon TV which is just the thing if your kids have ever wanted to appear on TV… as a cartoon character. They can use the built-in camera to snap a photo of themselves, which is then ‘meshed’ with one of 11 cartoon characters. Once the tooning transformation is complete, their character will dance around on screen to one of 5 built-in songs, or to music from an external audio source like an MP3 player. There’s also a microphone accessory that doubles as a remote control and camera trigger. It’s expected to hit stores in June with a suggested price of $69.99.

[ Kids Tech Review – Fisher Price My Toon TV ]

OhGizmo! Review – ATP GPS PhotoFinder mini

ATP GPS PhotoFinder mini (Image property of OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

When I first read about the concept of tagging your photos with GPS data, I wasn’t exactly sold on the idea. I mean who takes photos and forgets where they were? That’s half the reason for taking a photo in the first place, to remember where you’ve been or what you’ve seen. I came back from CES this year with over 3,000 shots, and I can tell you where each and every one was taken. However, as photo sharing sites like Flickr became more popular, I started to warm up to the geo-tagging idea, since it meant that I could see where somebody else’s photos were taken. To me, that was its ‘killer app’.

Well the popularity of geo-tagging clearly wasn’t hindered by me not being on board, and at this point there are quite a few solutions on the market that make it easy to record and update your photos with GPS positional data. In fact, you can even buy cameras that already have GPS functionality built-in. But if your camera predates this convenience, the GPS PhotoFinder mini from ATP provides an easy way to geo-tag your photos, without a PC, thanks to a special dock that accepts SD or CF memory cards directly from your camera. So how well does it work? You can read my full review of the ATP PhotoFinder mini after the jump.Continue Reading

Protect Your Base With A DIY Paintball Turret


By Luke Anderson

I’ve been out paintballing a few times, and it’s actually a lot of fun. The trick is to get hit as little as possible. While I enjoyed running around with a few friends on two different teams, I always thought it would be cool to have a set of turrets to defend each other’s bases. Of course building a paintball turret isn’t exactly an easy task, but if you do a good job at it, you’ll have a menacing contraption like the picture above.

Words cannot even describe the level of awesomeness reached by this DIY project. Imagine having a paintball turret that can fire up to 34 balls per second and can be controlled up to half a mile away with a HUD. If you’ve got between $500-$1100 lying around and about 30 hours of free time, you too can build your own menacing turret. I bet for a few extra bucks you could make it talk like the turrets in Portal.

[ InventGeek ] VIA [ SlipperyBrick ]

Heated Pants Keep Your Legs Toasty All Winter


By Luke Anderson

Every year at about this time I start to get really antsy for Spring. That’s because we start to get a taste of warmer weather for a day or so, then it turns back to bitter cold for a week. Despite my affinity for technology and the amount of my time spent in front of a computer, I like spending time outdoors. Unfortunately when it’s cold out, I prefer to stay inside where it is cozy and warm. So how does one beat the cold without putting on layers upon layers of clothing? With heated pants of course.

These heated pants aren’t the most stylish out there, though the gray ones don’t look half bad. I was always told that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. In this case, the built-in heater is what really matters. If you’re going to be out in the cold for long periods, it’s not really going to matter what your pants look like if they’re keeping you warm. The heater is powered by a rechargeable battery that slips into your pocket. These toasty pants will set you back a cool $121.

[ DogFunk ] VIA [ Coolest-Gadgets ]